GRAFTON— The Lady Bearcat Basketball program has been hard at work in the weight room and is ready to take to the court as their season draws nearer.
The team recently wrapped up a four-day preseason boot camp, and the coaching staff is more than excited about what they saw.
“I believe it was a great success,” exclaimed Head Coach Andrew Moore. “This is the first year we have done something like this, but I think it is going to be an annual thing now.”
Moore revealed that in order to host the preseason event, the team had to use some of their flex days.
Flex days are set aside to allow coaches to work with their athletes outside of the regular season period.
However, he trusts that those used days were well spent, as he saw his players push themselves harder than ever before in hopes of boasting their best season yet.
“The girls showed up and really pushed themselves,” he shared. “We tried to make the workouts hard physically and mentally.”
Each day, the Lady Cats were tested and challenged to pushed through the boundaries of their own strength, with tough physical tasks, like tire flipping, and were also trained on building endurance on stationary bikes.
And despite the challenging tasks and grueling workouts, the Lady Bearcats’ dedication shone through.
“We had great attendance, and I am proud of the effort they gave in order to improve in these areas, which are essential elements on the court,” Moore noted.
With the hustle exhibited during the camp, Moore, along with the other members of his coaching staff, Kurtis Davis, Becky Kittle and Gary Chambers, are more than excited to get this season underway.
With a roster of 20 hungry Lady Cats, the team will be working the court for the next several weeks, honing in on their shot and sharpening those dribbling skills, in hopes of working their way to a winning season.
Of those 20 players, this season, Grafton will welcome five freshmen to the team, making their pre-season time together essential.
“The camp we held really allowed us to introduce our freshmen to the program and to help the newcomers to learn what we are trying to accomplish this season,” Moore said.
The program is elated to welcome the fresh new talent of Hadley Horne, Macy Johnson, Regan Knight, Amidy Cook and Lillie Crimm. And these freshmen aren’t the team’s only newcomers for the season ahead.
Grafton High School juniors Nevaeh Swisher and Nevaeh Johnson have also joined the ranks of the Lady Bearcats, and Moore believes they both have a lot to offer on the court, alongside returning junior Jada Johnson.
The Lady Cats will, however, be forced to start the season without returning varsity player Eva Jones. The junior will be undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
“Not having Eva is definitely a loss for us to start the season, but we want her to be healthy and without injury,” Moore expressed.
In addition to the seasoned juniors, the team is also returning sophomores Jodi Keene, Kambree Delaney, Tayler Rudy, Emma Johnson, Ally Mayle, Caity Boylen and Kelsey Massie, all who received some valuable playing time last season.
“All of the returning sophomores played some varsity minutes last season, so they got a taste for it and know what to expect,” Moore reported.
But what could be one of Grafton’s biggest advantages this season, is the senior leadership on their roster.
Last season, the program boasted two senior players, one of which was forced to miss most of the season due to an injury.
This season, however, that number has doubled, as seniors Alyssa Satterfield, Izzy Swiger, Sydney Friend and Amber Smith will suit up for one final season as Lady Bearcat Basketball players.
“We will be relying on them to provide leadership and guidance,” voiced Moore, “They have been with me for four years and have been working with Coach Davis for over six years. They have a good idea of what we are expecting, and I believe they will lead us well.”
Moore noted that this season the team will be hoping to build off some of the experience that last year’s challenging season brought about.
“We are looking to be a little deeper this season. We are excited about the turnout on the first day, and it looks like we will have the numbers to have a full JV team this year,” he disclosed.
And filling the roster for a JV team is something Moore believes to be a vital part of the program’s overall success.
“The JV team is essentially the backbone of our program,” he explained. “It allows us to develop players to get them ready for the varsity action.”
The Lady Bearcats are set to test out their skills with a preseason scrimmage on Wednesday, November 17, at Gilmer County, with a 5:30 p.m. tip., before hosting a scrimmage on Saturday, November 27 against Walkersville, MD.
The team’s first regular season contest is to be held on Friday, December 3. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m., at Shady Spring High School.
Good luck to our Lady Bearcats on their season ahead!